Villagers came runners-up in a prestigious award after they raised nearly half a million pounds to save a pub.

Stonesfield Community Pub Limited came just short in the Pub Saving Award 2023, after the group safeguarded the future of the White Horse pub in the village five miles north of Witney.

As well as capturing the imagination of the village, the pub’s campaign garnered support from Hollywood star Rupert Friend, as well as international attention, making headlines in the New York Times, ABC News, and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

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The Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA), which runs the Pub Saving Award, recognises people who have come together to save a pub which would have otherwise been demolished or converted to another use.

Paul Ainsworth, CAMRA’s national planning policy adviser, said: “Every year, the stories of communities saving their pubs become more incredible.

“These awards show the sheer determination and passion people have for their beloved pubs, a vitally important part of communities across the UK.

"Too many pubs are forced to close their doors against a backdrop of the cost-of-living crisis and soaring energy bills.

"Everyone recognised are an inspiration to others. I would encourage everyone to support their pubs, especially in the traditionally quieter post-Christmas period.”

Dating back to the 19th century, the White Horse shut its doors in March 2020 due to the pandemic, with the owner putting the pub on the market.

It then sat empty for more than three years, requiring extensive work to restore it to its former glory.

Being the last remaining pub in the village of Stonesfield, the community rallied together to ensure the White Horse was safe from developers intent on turning it into housing.

As such, the Stonesfield Community Pub Limited was formed in an attempt to buy the pub and place it into community ownership.

Needing to raise almost £400,000, the community embarked upon a fundraising crusade, from cake and t-shirt sales to virtual pub quizzes and Saturday morning car washing.

In September 2023, it was announced that Stonesfield Community Pub Limited’s offer of £455,000 had been accepted and the pub was now property of the village.

The White Horse is now operating as a ‘pop-up’ pub on weekends until the new year, while extensive work takes place to ensure it returns to its former glory, selling home-made food, select beers and other drinks.

This year’s winner of the Pub Saving Award was the Save Our Sun committee, who raised more than £350,000 to save the Rising Sun in Woodcroft, Chepstow.